Yeah, I’m not a big fan of V.S. Naipaul, the person. But, man, can that dude write.
The poetic nature of his writing reminds me a little of Fitzgerald. Here’s another beautiful passage from A House for Mr. Biswas: Read more
I’ve mentioned before, specifically in this post, about V.S. Naipaul’s misogynistic reputation.
Now, granted, A House for Mr. Biswas is my first experience reading Naipaul’s work, so I’m hardly an expert on him. But some of his quotes in the past about women have been telling, especially for a Nobel Prize winner. Read them here.
I’d be lying if I said his views on those subjects hadn’t been in the back of my mind while reading this novel. So, when I came to the following passage, I probably raised an eyebrow (or two). This passage is describing how Mr. Biswas is adjusting to having moved to a new village with his fairly new wife. Read more
So this is the post where I usually select and preview my next read, but I thought it would be fun to let you guys weigh in this time.
Take it away, Lucky Jim.
Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of the morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth has been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he’d somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by a secret police. He felt bad.
How brilliant is that?
The description of his mouth might be my favorite part. But I also love the close. “He felt bad.” Just a perfect, perfect description.
Lucky Jim is taking me longer than I’d like, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of the novel. I’m enjoying it. This season is a little busier so I’m just not getting as much reading done as I want to.
Lucky Jim is a novel full of beautiful awkwardness.
Amis’s style and tone remind me of Anthony Powell’s writing in A Dance To The Music Of Time.
You might recall I absolutely loathed that novel—it’s last in my rankings. But though Lucky Jim reminds me of Dance in some regards, it’s a much more humorous, entertaining, developed novel—at least to this point.
But back to the awkwardness. I can think of nothing more awkward than being invited to a dinner party full of college history professors and being asked to gather around a piano and sing together. For fun.
That’s exactly what happens to Jim Dixon. His mentor, Professor Welsh, invites him over for a party and some impromptu singing breaks out. Read more
The introduction to Lucky Jim contains this little nugget that might interest you if you’re a literature nerd like myself.
Kingsley Amis, who wrote Lucky Jim, went to Oxford with his friend and fellow writer, Philip Larkin. The Jim character was actually based on a hybrid of the two friends.
Anyway, as you might know, J.R.R. Tolkien taught at Oxford. And, as luck would have it, Amis and Larkin took one of his classes. The intro concludes with this little nugget about Tolkien’s teaching style: Read more